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Shaka: Why a negative response to San Juan North story grated; and what it says about us

Here comes a rant! Okay, I’m penning this in response to a tweet I got on Friday. I’m leaving out names and ‘@s’—my wife’s orders.

I retweeted a fantastic piece by @Wired868 about San Juan North Secondary, the defending SSFL Intercol champions. A piece highlighting the wonderful work of great people in sometimes difficult, and often overlooked, circumstances.

Photo: San Juan Secondary striker Renaldo Boyce (centre) and his teammates celebrate after their 1-0 win over Presentation College (San Fernando) in the National Intercol final at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium in Marabella on 6 December 2016.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

One responder took the opportunity—in his comment on the piece—to criticise the TT Pro League, didn’t take the hint in my own response to him and then doubled down with a five tweet salvo of his own which has been grating on me ever since.

And my apologies in advance to my Caribbean people. I know as a region we are dealing with far greater concerns than this right now, which is maybe why I’m on such edge.

The Wired868 piece showcased some wonderful work being done by outstanding individuals. From the assistant vice-principal Phillip Fraser and his insistence on the players maintaining good grades, and the academic support the school provides; to the coach, Jerry Moe, giving back to his community; to the players focussed on their dreams, and making something of themselves.

Again. Oftentimes in very difficult circumstances!

And one person’s takeaway was a negative commentary on the TT Pro League—a league that is not connected to the SSFL.

Photo: San Juan North Secondary attacker Brandon Semper (centre) fires past St Mary’s College captain Matthaeus Granger (left) during SSFL action in San Juan on Wednesday 13 September 2017.
Semper scored twice but San Juan North had to settle for a 3-3 draw.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

And here’s my thing: In Trinidad and Tobago, as indeed the rest of the wider Caribbean, we have genuinely great people, doing wonderful work in uplifting our kids through sport, the arts, education, mentorship, jobs.

We have kids who are among the best, brightest, most talented and inspiring in the world. And too often the response is to stand on their shoulders in an effort to get a better view of something we hope to paint as negative.

The narrow-minded responses, intended only to deflect from the author’s own shortcomings, does nothing to uplift those most deserving and goes further in keeping them down—at a time when they deserve so much more.

If we are to realise change, we have to be better at recognising our bright sparks and uplifting them. We have to be better at allowing and supporting our genuinely great people to do their thing.

Rant over. Deep breaths.

AboutShaka Hislop

Shaka Hislop
Shaka Hislop is a football analyst with ESPN and a 2006 World Cup player with Trinidad and Tobago. He played professionally in England with Reading, Newcastle, West Ham and Portsmouth and has an Executive MBA in Business Administration and a Mechanical Engineering degree from Howard University. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame athlete in Trinidad and Tobago and Howard while he was the inaugural winner of the England PFA's Special Merit Award for his services to football.

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9 comments

  1. First things first, the caption for the FB post kinda speaks volume?

    I know opinions — including mine! — are like assholes, we all have one…but how do you “form your mouth” to criticize — apparently? — the work being done at San Juan North by those in charge??? Ah rell busy so that’s my penny for now.

  2. Exactly Shaka Hislop! Call such ‘persons’ out. We need to weed out the cancer of uncorralled negativity that is smothering national progress. Aaron Pollard you may have already seen this.

  3. I’d vote for Shaka to take over the TTFA. #djwout

  4. There’s no room for real comment here when we don’t know what the tweets said.
    As is, this piece really doesn’t add anything to the national discourse.

    • Off the top of my head, the tweet compared the Pro League unfavourably with the SSFL. I’m not sure about the five other tweets where the person doubled down on that theme but I get the picture.

    • Earl Best

      Which is why, Chabeth, Shaka correctly styled it a “rant.”
      It was never intended to “add to the national discourse;” its sole purpose was to get Shaka’s anger at how skewed and shallow and indeed myopic and unfair the national discourse can sometimes be off his chest.

      Matter fix!